Musings: Empire of Gold and “The Art of Loving”

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I was on Vault of Doom this afternoon reading about various dramas including Empire of Gold, but in particular, what it means to understand a work of literature in the original language as compared to the casual and detached consumption of pop-culture. I’m not going to be delusional and think that K-drama supersedes pop-culture, but to acknowledge that there truly is an art form involved with the show that I, as a non-Korean speaker, will most certainly miss, is not that large of a leap in thinking. What does take some grappling is coming to terms with what I see as translation, that which I prod and try to understand, is fundamentally flawed; what I write here and on every episode of the show I’ve covered, is therefore flawed as well.
I guess for the purposes of this blog, it’s fine. This place is a means by which I put my words out in the world for others to judge for themselves with little need to show vast knowledge, or to be given ethos by my audience. Nevertheless, I continuously wonder how I’d feel if I truly had knowledge of Korean, such that the strengths and flaws of a drama that I perceive are not conceived under false pretenses or mediated. Would my views of EoG or other dramas change appreciably? Could it change drastically? Answer to question one: probably. Answer to question two: I hope not.
(I also apologize for the massive mind spill below.)

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It might be worthwhile starting with a quotation from a very relevant name in the last episode, Erich Fromm.

There is perhaps no phenomenon which contains so much destructive feeling as ‘moral indignation,’ which permits envy or hate to be acted out under the guise of virtue.

I guess it’s rather ironic that the above quotation has little to do with why Erich Fromm was mentioned in episode 18, yet I think this sentence is particularly informative and more relevant to the show than the one actually used when thinking about why and how actions are taken by characters. Fromm stated the above as a basis for explaining that “moral indignation” is merely a discreet mechanism for indulging in envy or hate. However, in Empire of Gold, the revelation is regards to the “phenomenon of destructive feeling”; that revenge based upon “moral indignation” may be the worst kind of revenge, the revenge that will lead to more bloodshed than anything else. Unsurprisingly, it’s that kind revenge continues to fuel the motivations of our main quartet of characters. Episode 17-18 show that over the course of nearly two decades, none have come to recognize that nearly everything they have gone through, all the tears, loss, and pain are a result of one kind of thinking: anger towards the world’s supposed cruelty.

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The Paradox of Motive

This is where the conundrum of Jang Tae-joo comes in. He understands that “a bad world” and “a good world” are selfish constructs; he tells Pil-joo that when one’s life is going well, he believes in a good world, but when things go badly, he believes in an inherently cruel world. Yet when it comes to his war against Sung-jin and the Choi family, he fails to come to the same conclusions. Like the other three characters at the center of the fray, “moral indignation” is probably the biggest motivating factor for everything he does. Otherwise, Tae-joo has no purpose whatsoever; why would he need to hate Sung-jin group? Greed? For a man with Tae-joo’s intellect, greed as a basis of hatred is nothing short of being a royal embarrassment.

All of them, the quartet, feel that winning Sung-jin group will somehow give them everything they’ve lost in life; love, friendship, family, the list could go on. They’ve spent the better part of their lives trying to regain something that’s only fleeting. They’ll live on edge for what is left of those lives, bound to the company and vice because that’s all they have. That’s all they’ll ever have. Tae-joo keeps telling himself that Sung Jin will change from Hell to Heaven once he takes control, especially in the last few episodes. I think that’s he’s just lying to himself, and by extension, Seol-hee. He knows first hand that being at the top only means you have to worry about how you’ll be knocked off, or how your life will change because the “wind starts blowing in a different direction.”

For whom or for what Min-jae, Seo-yoon, and Jung-hee are fighting for are obvious–Park Kyung-soo explicitly describes them through the last 18 episodes. Tae-joo’s motives on the other hand, are clouded; he tells Seo-yoon over and over that one cannot have a “happy dinner table and Sung Jin Group,” while seemingly trying to accomplish just that in his promises to Seol-hee about “conquering Sung Jin and making it heaven.” Could it be that Tae-joo is just like any person—advising one thing and doing something else? Absolutely; Tae-joo is human. However, for someone to continuously stress a philosophy that he doesn’t follow himself is a tad problematic. So what does Tae-joo want for Seol-hee, and what does he want for himself?

Separating these two questions is critical to understanding Tae-joo, because what he wants for himself and what he wants “for Seol-hee” are quite different. I see lots of people confused and annoyed by Jang and his actions, stating that his words are cryptic and his face is totally expressing love Seol-hee (which is apparently a problem because TJ/SY is the promised “OTP”). I’m going to stay away from arguing why the TJ/SY ship (in the manner that international fans are perceiving it) is a detrimental turn of events for Seo-yoon and her development as a feminist character, and focus on the former part. Why is Tae-joo cryptic?

First of all, he’s a guy. Guys are cryptic, and Tae-joo’s personality only begets more of that cryptic behavior. To expect him to be forward with any sort of feelings is as likely as getting a lion to jump through a hoop of fire; it can happen. But is it likely? Not a chance. He has told Seol-hee he adored her once. And when did he tell her this? He told her when he was about to leave the only world he knows—just like Hitler—and even then, it was a backhanded, “surrender to the person you love.” Here is a quotation from Hitler regarding Eva Braun (via this article) that leaves one wondering whether Tae-joo views Seol-hee this way:

Imagine if on top of everything else I had a woman who interfered with my work! In my leisure time I want to have peace .. I could never marry.

Yeah. That’s a little disconcerting.

For Tae-joo, the concept of taking over the “Empire of Gold” may be a just flaccid goal, not a tangible desire. The differences are subtle but important—what he wants is not money, but the power to change the world that comes with money. When his father burned to crisp, he was powerless to do anything about it. Sung Jin was the representation of having the power to move the world he lived in (Korea); the power that could have saved his father’s life. This is evidenced by the fact that he doesn’t blame Sung Jin for being what it is, a corporation, accepting the way of the world and using his abilities to do well under those circumstances. If that were not the case, Tae-joo would not have spent a large part of his life desiring to beat and take over Seo-yoon and Min-jae.

As the years went on, having the power to control Sung Jin quickly became an affirmation of his business prowess rather than a desire to possess; it’s a thrill, a game, to him. Note how he continuously refers to terms used in gaming when discussing plans with Seo-yoon: “We need to pass the preliminaries,” “…when we get to the final stage,” and his consistent references to poker. He possibly takes more joy in competing with Seo-yoon/Min-jae/Jung-hee, than he does having money. It shows in his (annoying) demeanor and his boredom with Eden, which was a fantastic, albeit shady, company on its own.

(Note: I will not be using any of Go Soo‘s or Lee Yo-won‘s facial expressions as proof, because they are untrustworthy. I will stick to the script only.)

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Trust, Companionship, and Friendship

Speculation aside on Tae-joo’s psychological motives, where does Seol-hee come in? Why would have Tae-joo have promised her so much?

Over and over again, we see Tae-joo place great emphasis on friendship and loyalty, which are likely the only two moral standards he has. For example, we see him get genuinely upset by Min-jae’s deflection from him back in episode 11. Tae-joo knows abandonment is inevitable after trying to strike a deal with Min-jae in the early episodes, but it’s interesting to see how he tries to “guilt-trip” Min-jae regardless (see the scene during the 1 Billion/10 Affliates signing ceremony). Despite being a first-class jerk, it’s interesting to note his ability to build relationships, and loyalty. He lures them with cash, but keeps them with compassion (see Pil-joo). He knows what people desire, and when he is in the position of power over someone, he’ll definitely keep them tied to his foot (Dong-hui’s case).

Now we come to Seol-hee. I don’t doubt for a second that he has “loved” her at some point in time (whether he does now is irrelevant). The reason he likes her is simple; she shows unending compassion towards him. Her loyalty is steadfast, but more than that, she sacrifices over and over for him. She receives from him, but she also gives—and gives selflessly. She’s loved him for so long that it’s impossible for him to not love her back, at least a little bit; but for a man like Tae-joo, he’s happy to have someone he can trust fearlessly.

“What is Seol-hee to you?”
“Someone who is like Sung-jae to you. Someone I can smile at and trust.

While he values Choon-ho and Pil-doo for being his true friends, neither of them has cared as much as Seol-hee. She sends him a birthday cake and worries about him from jail—who does that? She didn’t even get angry about Tae-joo’s misdemeanors during the murder incident, and even in the moment, she did whatever she could to protect Tae-joo; like marrying him off to Seo-yoon. Tae-joo is thankful for all of that, and he feels a sense of security with her, familiarity, kinship. She is always “Seol-hee Sunbae.” He will always need to clean up the blood he spilled on her.

Speaking of Seo-yoon, Tae-joo does say several things that seem like a ruse, but could actually be complicating matters for both parties:

“Choi Min-jae…that man has changed a lot.”
“—I’m the one who has changed…I live comfortably in a big house. Now the hunting dog has turned into a house pet….where I came from, and where I need to go, I forgot that for awhile.”

“Who do you trust?”
“I trust myself, and the person who needs me.”

Seo-yoon is different from Seol-hee. She’s the first woman who could act upon Tae-joo, not always be acted upon. For Seo-yoon, Tae-joo is the first guy she let act upon her. They’ve given up pride for each other, ironically, under the pretext of protecting their own pride. They look at each other straight in the eye, as equals (and “enemies”), knowing that the other is probably one of the few people in the world who could strip him/her of everything.

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The Art of Loving

Love isn’t something natural. Rather it requires discipline, concentration, patience, faith, and the overcoming of narcissism. It isn’t a feeling, it is a practice.

Those who have watched episode 18 were probably looking for a Fromm quotation that is closer to this one (from his book The Art of Loving (I’ve read quite a bit of it), where he discusses his philosophy on various kinds of love, from familial to romantic). This quotation basically sums up what Seo-yoon was trying to imply by her discussion with Sung-jae of having “the capacity” to love; love is less about “falling in love” and more about “practicing love.” When Sung-jae notes that “Tae-joo isn’t the guy for her,” she counters (using that quotation) that it’s less about whether he is the “ideal guy” and more about whether she (and he) have the desire, the ability and the will to love each other. She concludes that she doesn’t—thinking back on Seol-hee and Tae-joo’s relationship.

Some find this to be evidence that Seo-yoon loves Tae-joo, others find it proof that Tae-joo and Seol-hee are the end game. I actually interpret it a different way: Seo-yoon believes that she cannot love regardless of whether she tried or not (so far she hasn’t). Why? Because she sees Seol-hee “practicing love” for Tae-joo, and realizes that she cannot do such a thing for anyone. She believes that it’s beyond her to love romantically, and Sung-jae confirms her sentiment by thinking back on Seo-yoon saying that she “only knows of dating from books.”

Honestly though, what Seo-yoon feels for Tae-joo or vice versa in the romantic sense should not be the focal point of the show. What is the focal point is how they’ve changed each other, how they’ve become different people by spending years together (it’s possibly Park Kyung-soo’s reason for using Fromm). Both of them have to keep telling themselves that “it’s a deal,” that they don’t have any connection with each other, that they can never be true friends; the world keeps telling them that they have connected at some level, be it choices in food, indirectly defending each other, displaying ease and patience with each other (“Aren’t you upset?” “Upset? I’ll be upset another day.”).

Even in their cold emotions, I think they have one of the best marriages in the world. They have no false expectations for each other, for they understand each other’s thought processes without letting “feelings” cloud judgement. The way they complete each other’s thoughts is remarkable. It’s like they’re one mind subconsciously—yet at the same time, they’re conscientious of the other’s insecurities, his/her quirks. They see themselves in the other on a constant basis. They help each other…even when they don’t want to (“Why are you telling me this?” “Because I thought you were a friend. Because I made a mistake too.”).

…it [love] requires discipline, concentration, patience, faith, and the overcoming of narcissism…

Maybe what they have is a kind of love.

…Maybe that’s the art of loving.

(SBS, the last screenshot is from Soompi Forums, the rest are mine)

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40 responses to “Musings: Empire of Gold and “The Art of Loving”

  1. well, i read the seduction comment differently… i read that as a part of the distorted use of marriage made by many couples in the show. JH’s to SY’s dad, Min Jae’s to the Daehan bank heiress and SY to TJ. JH is trying to point out that what SY did with TJ is not that different from what she did with her dad. I guess she is suggesting that one way to turn this contract marriage where there is full knowledge on the part of both partners into an arrangement where SY gains power is to seduce him. I think she implies that in seduction, the man does not necessarily have to be in love with you or even like you as a person. You make him want you by using your physical charms while secretly remaining immune to him. That way, SY will introduce deception into this hitherto open marriage and gain the upper hand. Interestingly, TJ did use sex to persuade SH into confessing to the murder — remember his super steamy (by kdrama standards) kiss? He knew it would work to calm and convince her of his passion for her and it did. So, TJ has gone down that path though I do not believe SY will… that is just not her. I hope I am right…. I will be TRULY disappointed in the writer if SY initiates a seduction plan. I will be less so if TJ does. I will be happiest if any physical intimacy that occurs is mutual.

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    • The difference is that SY and TJ entered a “contract” marriage, where both parties were very clear about their interests. MJ’s wife honestly loved MJ as did CDS for JH. So again, her comment doesn’t make much sense. How can JH be so sure that SY can get TJ’s interest when there has been nada for 9 years?

      I don’t like the seduction plan either, because that reduces SY to a prostitute and only perpetuates that women can only succeed in the world using sex as a tool. Not cool, after how progressive SY’s character has been.

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  2. Hi…I am a silent fans…today I like to say that this drama really heavy and I need a guides just for get through all episode, just like you say before i can’t find recaps or epidode guides in other blogs
    All the actors and actress stand up on they’re own characters, and the writers leave judgments in audience head and heart . Everybody (audience) has theirs opinions and wishful for all characters and endings by read face, hear the dialogues, watch body language of actors and actresses.
    I look all over blogs just to read episode guidea but I can’t find it..Lucky I found your blog, because its hard for non korea and English speaking like me to understand the dialogues luckily just watch actors and actresses doing they’re job in this drama it’s good enough for catch the meaning of the story.

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  3. are you still watching my friend? i just saw episode 21.. my heart is very heavy. i am not sure why but i think TJ is losing his mind…. and i ADMIRE him so it makes me very sad.

    Seo-Yoon’s classist put downs are really making me crazy. she is so CONSERVATIVE.

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    • I’m watching it right now (it’s one of the better episodes), and I get frustrated because SY keeps giving a hand to TJ and that chauvinistic fool won’t freaking see it! I’m convinced, she likes him, even if she won’t admit it to herself, or directly to him.

      SY keeps dropping roundabout hints by handing him a golden platter–when she said “I don’t know who Jang Tae-joo is,” the phrasing had a twinge of regret and she even spoke lowly of her father and attempted to empathize. She understands TJ because she sees him at his most brilliant and his most desperate (SH sees only the man, not the mind), and calls him out on his flaws. If only he would know that she reads him like an open book, he just might re-analyze himself preemptively.

      Maybe SY is the key to releasing TJ from his spiral to destruction…or maybe she’ll just have to pick up the ashes. In any case, the one good thing out of all of this is that SH is no longer wearing rose tinted lenses; her face conveys annoyance, and I love it. This show has really been remarkable in creating female characters that are not only round and dynamic, but true to themselves. SH can love TJ as much as she wants, and he her, but she knows that there is a point when one has to draw the line. TJ loves the idea of money “moving the world” far more.

      Seo-yoon became the better man today–on all counts. Stunning, stunning, stunnng. I love her dialogue.

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  4. I am sorry but Seo Yoon is losing me entirely here. Why can’t she hold his hand — he is smart and hardworking and creative — so what if he comes from the wring side of the tracks? why is that so important to her? why does she keep bringing it up? why won’t she sit at the table he has set — fair and square? that was their deal…. no? Is she feeling slighted by SH? what is driving her? please help me understand her….

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    • I could ask the same question, why doesn’t TJ hold her hand? Because she was born rich? Is it a crime to be privileged beyond your will? (Btw, she sat at his table for the past 9 years. the 1 Billion issue is his.)

      I think the class divide is a moot issue, because akin to the revolution in Russia, the ruling class will forget the proletariat regardless of “principles” and “origin.” If you have read Orwell’s “Animal Farm” the simplified example with the farm animals drives this point across: power is lethal. TJ has left being the champion of the poor many years ago. He will be a Stalin unchecked, I have no doubt.

      Seo-yoon on the other hand, is aware of the lethality. She holds TJ accountable to his motives, asking repeatedly whether he knows what he believes in, and owns up to her “own delusion” consistently. She admits that her father had stolen sweat, but notes he was happiest when he supporting the people of the Sungjin Empire. TJ is not ready for that (which is what she is alluding to when she claims TJ is unable to hold Sungjin) because he doesn’t have the will of the people or the restraint to hold the all consuming power; he is only bitter towards the Sungjin money. He thinks that Sungjin holds sway with gold alone, when it’s twisted “compassion” and loyalty that has moved the world.

      TJ asks what the difference between the progeny of CDS and his father is, and there is none. CDS chanced upon the means to give his family life; in a parallel fashion, TJ did so as well. Both raised their companies on a “lie” but what they ended up with was the truth: a company composed of people who have bonded together over years. Eden was aptly named in retrospect; it was TJ’s heaven at conception. However, TJ saw the mirage of hell and wanted more. He couldn’t stop. Sungjin consumed him.

      SY will never be consumed. That’s the difference. She doesn’t sell her soul for her country, she only gives her life.

      We could debate for an eternity about who has “the right” to rule because there is no real answer to that question, but what TJ has done is almost entirely unforgivable, and his misdeeds is in a list a mile long. He hides his vanity and arrogance behind “moral indignation” and yet SY calls him “wise” till the end. That makes me think SY is compassionate, motherly–stern but ultimately caring. That’s why she can be Sungjin’s caretaker, its Queen.

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  5. You are such a powerful writer and I feel so moved by your words that I cannot think clearly and I feel very persuaded by what you say about Tae Joo but I just do not admire SY. He cannot hold her hand because of SH and that might change when SH leaves him, but he is in too deep. Also, I do not think he is morally indignant that much… he just wants in. He never says greed is bad, he says acknowledge that we are just as greedy and a lot more needy. I think we do not like him because he sees no worth in poverty… and we expect the poor to make us feel better for being well off by showing us that we are warm in body but hollow within, they are cold of body but cuddly. We have money, but they have love. Unlike SH, Tae Jae has no use for that. He wants for the poor what the rich have. Seo Yoon quoted Marx; I think Tae Joo would have quoted Frantz Fanon, the anti-imperialist freedom fighter who asked, “what does the black man in the colony want? He wants to enter the white master’s house and sleep with the master’s wife.” He does not want to change the world, he wants to own it!!! Why won’t Seo Yoon let him have it??? He wants to eat at her table not on the floor with his mom and sister and she keeps wanting him to go back to them? I think I finally get it…she wants out. She wants an ordinary life, with an ordinary man, with whom she can discuss books and quotes till the morning light brightens the window. So she should get out and find some professor somewhere and live with her Sung-Jae like oppa. Because of her promise to Daddy? You are a grown woman — make your own decisions. Why not give the empire to Min Jae… he will manage it fine. He was. Won Jae does not deserve it. He is a fool. See — it is all about bloodlines. At one level she hates her world — but hates on TJ for wanting it?
    Why? Why?

    Why is Seo Yoon so frustrating to me? it is not that she was born into wealth that i hold against her, it is the fact that her attachment to the group is so unmotivated, so indirect, and yet it eats up her life. I know and understand Tae Joo — I know what makes him go. He has desires, and passion, and madness. He is human. What is Seo Yoon — she is not human to me. You call her a powerful woman? Is she? What are her achievements? Holding the group together? She needed TJ to do this first and now she needs Min Jae and his hatred of TJ. Knowing TJ’s next move? She has to use power and position, insult and sarcasm to keep him down, never fighting fair and square. It is so hypocritical that she claims that he is a thug when all he wants is to live by the pure rules of capitalism while she draws on older feudal codes of patronage, loyalty, condescension, nepotism to keep him down. Is that fair? Who loves her enough to go to jail for her? Sung Jae… her baby brother who is too foolish to know 1 and 1 make 2? No one else gives a shit and they shouldn’t because she is so so so cold. Smart, Brilliant but COLD. All this duty she has done for others — are they better people for it? Do they love her more for it? What does she want? Who is she? Her Dad is dead, her Stepmom is gone, the only person who cares for her truly is in jail. When will SY own up to her own madness in holding it in????? At what point does sacrifice become stupidity? Is the empire really worth it… she knows it is not but why does she hold on?

    Go for it Seo Yoon — LIVE. He is crazy but alive and will go down in flames but you will grow old at that dining table, reading books with your brother????? Moving Won Jae back and forth from Parcel to Planning? Until Myoon Hun or whomever takes over? Walking into your empty bedroom and finally changing into pajamas because he is gone … to jail, to the phillipines, to hell. Remember…

    THE GRAVE IS A FINE AND PRIVATE PLACE/ BUT NONE I THINK DO THERE EMBRACE.

    hold his hand, calm him down, walk to his side of the room. you will make the smartest, hottest kids on earth. and sungjin will prosper too.
    listen to this ajumma.

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    • Wow. I’m floored. I don’t know what to say; I’m not a prolific writer in the slightest. Regardless, what I do know is that I have to commend you on all the writing you’ve put in this forum, for it’s nearly a treatise.

      A lot of people who have been discussing EoG have been grappling with the same question, who is the better person? –Of SY and TJ, who should I be putting my faith with? The answer to said question(s) is neither. Our job isn’t to be some omnipresent god dictating our will onto the pawns called the Choi and Jang families/friends. Therefore, I’m going to state an opinion, but not prove anything.

      To say that he, TJ, wants not to change the world, but own it is not a commendable practice. One can own the world, but he will impart the same kind of misery on the earth that he had received…that is, until the next servant rises. This only creates a cycle of misery for everyone. TJ is justifying evil by evil. “Greater Greed can only overpower Greed.”

      Based on your screen name, I’m guessing you, like me, are of the Indian Subcontinent, possibly Hindu as well. If so (I apologize profusely if you are not), you would probably understand one of the main points of the Mahabharata, which is that people have duties to fulfill and that lives are not for our personal gains and losses but living life in whatever position we are in; the ultimate purpose in life is sending our minds–our souls–to a greater knowledge. SY accomplishes the first part, arguably under the wrong motives. What is important is that she does not become corrupt at any point in time and acts only for the sake of completing her duties in life; its why she easily gave up her teaching position for Sungjin. In other terms, she may have done things adharmic at face value, but they are not actually adharmic. End justifies the means, so to speak.

      I find that to be my connection with SY, because she lives a remarkable life. Out of all the people there, I’d want to be SY. She’s a strong woman, a fighter, self-respecting–and flawed. Totally and utterly flawed.

      Her stance on classism is deadly wrong, I won’t deny that for a second. She lives in the past and resists change. Also wrong. She stays firm to her perceptions of things, and rarely finds another worthy enough for her attention. Wrong again.

      She’s admittedly on the fray of humanity.

      …but TJ, he’s now inhumane. He’s a beast that no longer knows himself.

      (LOL to the last part you wrote. I still think they’re soul-mates, may ships be damned. Did you see TJ get angry as soon as he heard SY was going to go golfing with Dir.Park instead of him? He took all the other jabs without a second thought, and that gets him angry?)

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  6. well, at last a confession of love on part of both. as much as we will ever get in this dark, dark, dark, awesome drama that gets more awesomely relentless by the minute.

    the end justifying the means… what end would that be? and how has that end ever protected kunti or draupadi? when one was asked to throw away her son, the other disrobed in public? sorry — they were mothers and wives but choi seo yoon is the virgin queen… not mother, not wife, but virgin who will stand in front of the dragon and slay it.

    today, after so many many weeks of watching this show, i saw the one scene that i imagined in my dreams…. as Seo Yoon turns round, goes back in her room, and shuts the door behind her.

    She is the Virgin queen…. and her chastity (which I read as the capacity to sacrifice all her needs and desires, personal beliefs and ideals to the father) will protect the land, end fights, bring a 1000 years of peace and prosperity.

    Bravo.

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    • Wow. We are totally on the same wavelength… I thought SY resembled Queen Elizabeth I on so many levels as well. You’ve really hit it the nail on the head.

      So many people complained about a lack of romance, but I really think there was one–a tragic one–of a far more subtle nature. I find this way more compelling and interesting than Romeo-Juliet histrionics because their conflict is not of the external kind, of “Star-crossed lovers blocked by fate.” Rather, SY and TJ have internal conflict in their relationship. They can’t truly be together because they, and they alone, chose to be enemies first. Rather than star-crossed lovers facing adversaries, this story is of how fate and choice kept two people destined for each other from falling in love.

      Their last conversation and parting was incredibly poignant. “I wish you were truly my spouse” exchange was ridiculously sad in context of all the other conversations they’ve had over nine years. It really served as a last-ditch confession wrapped up in all the problems that stand between them. In a really weird way, my heart broke for them–for what could have been. Not only did vice and duty get in the way of building a proper relationship, the two of them managed to notice the fact that it did. Moreover, the wordless goodbye was a powerful mark of a somewhat begrudging, yet meaningful respect for each other in all of the good and bad.

      About Kunti and Draupadi, those events are of the wrongdoings of the world. It’s evidence for the complexity of immorality and the horrors of life, not a statement toward the underlying message. I’ve always thought that the Mahabharata was a platter for the Bhagavad Gita — a sort of context for it, I suppose. I would call neither perfect, but I think the key point of the BG is a very powerful thing.

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  7. it broke my heart too — that exchange between them. and i completely agree with you that they could not be together because of what is deep within them rather than the world.

    when each described what might have been, the other found that description demeaning — employee/prisoner. why — because they have not known the forms of giving that are at the core of romantic love. you give up your freedom, your ego, your pride. you become vulnerable. you lose. but then you gain.

    making yourself vulnerable and open is a very enriching experience — it strengthens you.

    i feel so sad that neither TJ nor SY have found this strength yet to expose themselves to the other. it is too late for them.

    imagine, if TJ sat next to her as opposed to opposite her. it would be different. imagine is she was at eye level with him as opposed to above him as he left, it would be different. i keep thinking how they sit across from each other in private, next to each other in public. that is the sad, sad, sad, story of their painful love.

    2 more episodes and then we are done.

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    • Gosh, don’t remind me. In two episodes I’ll either be bawling like crazy or attempting to throw my pillow out the window (l’m trying to be gentle) in anger. For once, I want a deus ex machina to appear out of nowhere. MJ, TJ, SY — These people need closure.

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  8. and i will miss our delightful exchanges as much as i miss this show. i hope the one you pick next will be something that i like as well….
    will be back here next week…. until then!

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  9. wow ..reading both of your exchanges and views blow me away..I never watched a drama to slice and find out what it meant like both of you have done, mumu’s mom and SplashofInspiration. Thank you for your insights..but this is definitely a very heavy and dark drama ever..Love it and might re watched it once the episode completes.love the last sentence MJ,TJ,SY- These people need a closure.Thank you again SplashofInspiration for your wonderful blog.

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  10. nucmedbird
    thank you for all the insight! am a k-drama devotee and have to say this ’empire of gold’ kept me so much more interested and uptight because of the well written story.to be honest my business IQ is not high so i found it hard to follow all the wheeling and dealings. can hardly wait for the unpredictable ending. really enjoying this website and totally hooked on the discussions! thanks!

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